Mumbai, Dec 9: In what could be termed as a massive breather for Salman Khan in the 2002 hit-and-run case, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday today doubted the evidence of Ravindra Patil, former police bodyguard of Bollywood star and witness in the case, observing that he was "wholly unreliable."
Justice AR Joshi said this while dictating the verdict in the appeal filed by the actor against the five-year sentence awarded to him by a Mumbai sessions court on May 6 this year.
Meanwhile, the High Court, hearing the case on Wednesday, said the final verdict in this case will be announced on Thursday.
Patil had lodged the FIR in this case on September 28, 2002, hours after the mishap occurred. In the FIR, he did not mention whether Salman was driving the car under the influence of liquor.
However, on October 1, 2002, after the receipt of Salman's blood test report, Patil gave a statement before a Magistrate saying that the actor had taken drinks on the ill-fated day and he had warned him not to drive rashly or else he would meet with an accident but Salman did not pay heed to his advice.
The Judge observed today that the evidence of Patil was doubtful because he had made improvements in his version later when his statement was recorded. "In view of this, he (Patil) is "wholly unreliable witness", the Judge noted while dictating his order in the court for the third consecutive day.
"Even if his statement has to be considered as partially reliable, there has to be corroboration in evidence which is not existing in this case," said the Judge in the court jampacked with lawyers, reporters and law students.
Ravindra Patil passed away in 2007 and was not available during the trial in the sessions court. However, the prosecution had produced Patil's statement recorded by a Magistrate earlier in which he had implicated Salman.
The trial court accepted Patil's statement and said it was admissible in law, based on which the actor was convicted. Salman, however, challenged the admissibility of the statement and said the witness was not available to him for cross-examination and contended that the trial court had erred in accepting this piece of evidence.
The High Court, however,is yet to give a ruling on the admissibility of Patil's statement. On September 28, 2002, the actor's car had rammed into a shop in suburban Bandra. In the mishap, one person was killed and four others injured. Salman, who is on bail, did not come to the court, though his sister, Alvira Khan-Agnihotri, attended the hearing.
(With inputs from agencies)